You can’t bring that on the plane!

It’s been established that some airlines are Coeliac friendly and others not so much when it comes to ordering and getting a 100% gluten free meal. I am interested in finding out how other Coeliacs find travelling by air when they try to get their own food onto the flight.

Whether or not I have a gluten free meal ordered, on a long-haul flight I like to bring some of my own food just in case. I don’t want to find myself stuck for hours without anything safe to eat if something goes wrong. Most of the time I pack fruit (especially bananas and oranges) and seed and nut bars. On a couple of occasions after being diagnosed, I tried to take yoghurt but was told that I couldn’t bring this onto the flight. I tried both putting the yoghurt into my hand luggage and also putting it into the clear plastic bag to show security but whatever I did I was told to either put it in the bin or eat it before going back through security. Am I ridiculous for even trying to take my dangerous, threatening yoghurts through security? Does anyone have any tips on the best gluten free food to take on flights?

Since writing this post I’ve been on a lot of flights, domestic and international and the best advice I would give anyone who is planning to fly gluten free is to come prepared! Check out my tips for flying gluten free and share your experiences, good or bad.

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  • Things I like to bring include homemade muffins, along with hard fruit that won’t get squished, nuts or a trail mix/dried fruits, homemade rolls with sliced pieces of a hard cheese and slices of a dry sausage in a ziploc bag. Hard boiled eggs travel well most of the time too 🙂

  • Will Foord

    Sep 7th, 2010

    Flew to Dubai with BA who have a range of gluten-free meals. The trouble is that they tend to include curries which aren’t quite to the tastes of my 5 year old daughter. I enquired as to whether they had a childrens gluten free option and they don’t. Apparently the problem is that they restrict the number of meal options outside of the norm. So it sounds like until my daughter develops her taste buds toward hot food, we will just have to chance it and take substitutes which, unfortunately tend to be chocolate based.

  • I usually fly across Europe. Flights no longer than 2-3 hours. So I don’t really need to take food with me. Since I’ve been diagnosed (end of last year, 2010), I haven’t taken an overseas flight. But when I fly, I usually do it in the mornings and I absolutely love having breakfast, so I always take either some muffins or a couple slices of bread with me. My next step is to buy some individual packs of jam/honey so I don’t have to beg for it at the counter of the coffee shop of the airport.

  • Nice idea Glutona…taking individual packs of jam/honey. That way you can be sure you’re getting gluten free stuff too rather than risking whatever they have at the airport. May have to do that myself. 😀

  • I have celiac, as does my five year old son. He also has an allergy to corn, tomatoes, soy and citrus. We will be flying to Hawaii in a few days and I am driving myself crazy trying to think of all the food I should pack for the plane. Thanks for sharing all the ideas. One think that we do usually bring are gluten free crepes rolled with various fillings (almond butter, ham and cheese) and then wrapped in foil. They stay moist and flexible for hours. I’m hoping that airport security allows me to bring small cold packs along?! I don’t mind going hungry for a 6 hour flight, but I can’t stand to see my child hungry!

  • Myself & 2 daughters (all coeliac) frequently travel long haul with Singapore Airlines (SQ). They provide 3 gluten free meals – main meal even consisting of fillet steak! Breakfast nearly always eggs. They also provide snacks throught the flight but these are mainly chocolates, fruit or crisps. I usually pack fried rice which SQ will reheat or pasta which can either be eaten hot or cold. I take gluten free sausages (or gf hot dog sauages) to eat cold. Then I take along slices of bread with either a tub of nutella or peanut butter (but I check there are no nut allergies on board). I also pack biscuits and chocolate. Hassle free travel with no hungry kids.

  • Took a long flight to Hawaii on United and they had GF options for us which was great. Not the most exciting meal, but good. You can’t take anything on the plane that is runny — and yogurt falls in that category. Hard cheese is fine, but not cheese with a soft center. I am dairy intolerant as well, so take manchego — love the idea of GF sausages – there are many that are wonderful. Will try that next time. Raw veggies are a favorite just cuz they give good crunch satisfaction and are yummy. I can’t do oats, soy or flax either, so most bars are out for me – and with combining issues, breads are out as well. Make for interesting times……LOL
    Also, by the by, Denver is a VERY GF friendly city! I live here and have many options. The Chef at Panzano, a wonderful Italian restaurant downtown is Celiac, so they are amazing. Only occasionally have I had issues. If you’re downtown try Vesta Dipping Grill. Amazing food, separate GF menu and they KNOW how to take care of the GF client. Worth the trip. Continually mentioned in ZAGAT as one of the top restaurants in the US.
    Haven’t travelled out of the US since I’ve been GF, so I will pay attention to this blog! Thanks!

  • Thanks for sharing, Lucy! And thanks for the info on Denver. I’m planning a trip to Denver next month actually and I hear very good things about how celiac friendly it is there. 😀

  • Spent our anniversary night at The Four Seasons downtown Denver and ate at their restaurant – Edge. They did such a fabulous job of GF accommodations! Actually most of their menu is already GF so it’s an easy place to eat. Yes, the Four Seasons is pricy but the restaurant wasn’t out of bounds for an excellent restaurant. They serve 3 meals a day. Another is Rhodiozio Grill in Lodo — most of their menu is GF. The salad bar is a bit of a challenge, but they do a great job. Trapper’s Steak House in Parker, CO — SE of metro Denver — in a Holiday Inn believe it or not, but one of our fave places. My motto is ask………:-) Bon Appetit!

  • Michelle

    Sep 11th, 2012

    Thanks Lucy, I am moving to denver in a month and this is great info, I had no idea it was so GF friendly there. Why manchego? I’m starting to ween off of dairy and am looking for alternatives.

  • I only got Coeliac disease when in my 50s. However, flying to Bulgaria, I found that their airline supplied me with a gluten-free roll with my on flight meal. I was fine. Once in Bulgaria life was more difficult, as wheat seemed to be mixed with everything and rice or potato dishes were rare. However, I bought some Ciabatta rolls from UK and managed to get bananas for those hungry moments! I enjoyed my week, and certainly did not starve, even if I did lose some weight!

  • I called the TSA the last time I flew within the US. They informed me that I could take any (repeat, any) food I needed through security if I informed them I had Celiac Disease (I had a note from my doctor, but didn’t need it) and allowed them to see the food. I actually sent it through the xray maching, and then told the TSA guy. He didn’t even look at the bag – said if it had gone through the machine that was good enough for him. I had rice pudding and chicken salad in the bag, along with my crackers and plastic silverware.

  • Flying from Minneapolis to Europe, I usually take Delta or partner airlines. This time, I found that Delta allowed me to sign up for a Gluten Free meal ahead of time but the European Airlines on my transfer flights did not. Both Air France and KLM say they do not offer special meals. They must treat the flights within Europe as US airlines treat domestic US flights for special meal accomodations. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I got to my “Air France” flight from Paris to Helsinki, and it was operated by Finnair. Finland has a high rate of gluten intolerance and is very progressive on this. So their flight actually had a great GF meal ready for me, even though my ticket claimed it would not be available. Go to Finland if you want to try some great gluten free sourdough breads and other baked goods!

  • What irritates me most about gluten free meals and flying is that most airlines have only 1 or 2 special meals so that the “Gluten Free” Meal is also dairy free, low fat, low cholesterol and tasteless. If you do get something like gluten free bread, it comes with margarine, not butter. My husband is sitting there with bread and butter and I get margarine. Same for coffee– dried creamer. I take international flights, business class, to Hong Kong and some meals come with fruit as an appetizer (he has nice sliced duck or shrimp), fruit as a salad, and fruit as dessert (I have to practically beg for some ice cream which they are serving everyone else). I cook at home and eat very nicely– I think the airlines should get better caterers. Or just ask those of us who have had this problem for many, many years.

  • I’m flying to Hawaii from Boston(via LAX out/Dallas back)in 2 weeks. I was told when I booked the flight(over the phone) on American I could order my GF meals ahead of time(first class..used my FF miles:>). Well now they tell me that only transcontinental flights(NYC-LAX) will offer GF meals! Ok looking at the map Boston LAX is actually further and yes Transcontinental!UGH! A 6 hr flight plus another to Hawaii without any food to offer!! Geez! Thanks for all the great ideas as I’ll need them. Does anyone go through LAX or Dallas and know of GF restaurants in the Terminals?